Every few months, I’ve posted a new question to the “Promptly Yours” box at the Narrator desk on the lobby staircase.
This month, the box was crammed full with responses, far more than I’ve seen before.
The question? “If time, money, and fear were no object, what would you finally get around to doing?”
Maybe there was a flurry of responses because we understand being tethered by the responsibilities and limitations of daily life. We all say we don’t want to live with regrets, and most of us try to minimize the “big” ones, but it might be the tiny pinpricks of unfulfilled interests that nag us most.
Far and away, the most prevalent response was that you would travel more. Travel everywhere and anywhere, was the consensus. I wholeheartedly agree; my husband can attest to the fact that if it was up to me, every little windfall or spare change would be immediately squirreled into our travel fund.
The second most frequent response was that you would actually give space to your art. You said you’d learn a new instrument, “finally finish a painting for once”, write your first novel at a desk under the trees. You would believe in your art enough not to give it the scraps of your leftover resources, energy, and devotion. I relate to this too; this job writing at the Pfister is the first time since my children were born that I’ve swept aside the chattering tasks that clamor for first importance to instead make space for writing. At first I whispered, and now a year later can finally say in a clear and steady voice, “This creative gift I have matters. I won’t spend another day wishing I was doing it. I will do it, today, however unsteadily.” And that has made this year one of the most luminous of my life. I cheer all of you fellow creatives on, those of you harboring a dream stuffed deep. For those of us that love and neglect our art, it won’t take too many breaths on the embers of our gifts to reignite them. Let’s just try.
And then there were the surprising answers, the intriguing and startling ones that caused me to reach out to their authors to learn the stories behind them.
Sandy wrote that if time, money, and fear were no object, she’d finally get around to…becoming the flying bird at the Dixie Stampede in Branson, Missouri. She’s taken her grandchildren to this particular show three times, and every time they all gape wide-mouthed at the spectacle of a woman dressed as bird, gliding smoothly through the air, touching down gently on a horse galloping around the ring and then soaring off again. Sandy finds this flying bird so compelling she can’t shake it. She wrote, “I’ll be 65 next month but a girl can dream.”
Linnea, age 5, would go on a Ferris wheel. I hope that this summer, she does.
Laurie wrote that she would “travel to hear each of the 6,909 living languages spoken in the world and sit down to a meal with each person I hear the language spoken by.” I thought about how it would be impossible to maintain a narrow view of the world and humanity if that’s what we were spending our time doing.
And perhaps the most moving response of all came from six-year-old Ellie, who dictated her idea to her mother. Unfolding her little paper, I remembered how tender and generous the hearts of children can be. She deserved her own post, so come back tomorrow to read her sweet story.